Thursday, December 20, 2007

Worth a thousand words!

Photography plays a huge role in the world of journalism. Politicians, athletes, religious figures, celebrities, and everyday people grace the pages of our newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Their faces are often filled with emotion— whether it joy, pain, disgust, confusion, or otherwise. It may seem simple: take a picture, write a caption, and publish it! However, many photojournalists have made some seriously unethical decisions regarding photography. You may be wondering what I am talking about, let me explain. The creation of the computer program Photoshop has led many people to alter their photographs from their original state…to pretty much anything they want, without explaining that it has been altered. With a program like Photoshop, a person can change the exposure, colors, and insert or delete objects. Another unethical thing photojournalists do is set up shots. A photographer’s job is to capture life, people, and real situations—in order to show society things that are going on in the world. However, when a photographer says ‘stand there’ or ‘hold this’ or ‘cry’, they are altering the situation and creating a moment that did not in fact ever happen, but was set up! Over time, many photographers have made this unethical decision, and paid the price by losing their jobs. Pictures are worth a thousand words…something we have all heard a million times…photojournalists should just make sure the thousand words, are the right ones!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ethically Speaking: Celebrity Obsessions

Tabloids & Paparazzi: two things that A-list celebrities can’t seem to avoid and society can’t seem to get enough of! When ‘tabloids’ first started the term referred to the format not the content; however, magazines such as The Star, OK!, and The Enquirer have since changed the term ‘tabloid’ and everything that it entails. Today the “tabloids” are focused around celebrity news, gossip, sports stars—the stories emphasize and sensationalize these people and the things they do. The stories that headline these magazines are basically ridiculous and unethical to say the least, and the pictures that go along with them are no better. The stories and pictures cover every angle of these people’s personal and private life; the stories and pictures are more often than not, defamatory and libelous. Paparazzi are another huge ethical issue; these people’s lives are spent chasing celebrities around everywhere to snap candid shots of celebs. The celebrities are often caught off guard and doing things they probably do not want to be photographed doing. Paparazzi, however, are relentless and like journalists who will do anything to ‘get a story’; they will do anything to ‘get a photo.’ Whether it is climbing a tree, sitting outside of Tom Cruise’s house at 3 a.m., or chasing Paris Hilton in her Lambo down the 5 in L.A.—paparazzi will stop at nothing. If these stories and photographs are so unethical then why will writers risk being sued for libel and photographers will risk crashing into a wall or falling out of a tree? In short, these people will risk their own lives because society loves to see celebrities at their best and especially their worst. Stories about Lindsay Lohan’s drug problems and pictures of Britney Spears sans underwear makes these people normal, and I think it makes people feel better about themselves. Our society has come to envy celebrities and look up to them (unfortunately above almost any other job), and so these magazines will continue to fly off supermarket shelves regardless of their lack of ethics.